|(Left to right) Capt. John F. Meier, Susan Ford Bales and Rolf Bartschi cut a 7-foot-long cake during a ceremony commemorating the crew’s move aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Meier is the ship’s commanding officer; Bales is the ship’s sponsor and daughter of the ship’s namesake, and Bartschi is Newport News’ vice president of CVN 78 carrier construction. Photo by Chris Oxley/HII|
Newport News August 3, 2015 - Huntington Ingalls Industries reached a major milestone on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) today as the ship's crew moved aboard and ate its first meal prepared in the galley. The first-in-class carrier is in the final stages of construction and testing at HII's Newport News Shipbuilding division.
"This is a rewarding time for the shipbuilders who have worked for the past six years to complete the systems and compartments needed to support the crew as they move aboard," said Rolf Bartschi, Newport News' vice president, CVN 78 carrier construction. "The ship we are building will be their home and will serve the Navy and the nation's need in defense of our country for the next 50 years."
Ship's Sponsor Susan Ford Bales helped serve a meal of prime rib, crab legs, shrimp, salmon and a 7-foot-long cake made to look like an aircraft carrier. The galley and associated messing areas were redesigned for Gerald R. Ford and future Ford-class carriers, offering a new layout that provides more space and greater efficiency for sailors as they prepare for meals. The serving lines and messing areas are arranged to offer significant quality-of-life improvements compared to Nimitz-class carriers.
"This is the tipping point for Ford," said Capt. John F. Meier, CVN 78's commanding officer. "Currently pierside in Newport News, we have water under our hull, and 1,600-plus sailors are eating, sleeping and working aboard. Our crew is fully aligned with Newport News Shipbuilding in executing the test program to deliver Gerald R. Ford next spring."
Ford is designed to house a crew of up to 4,660 sailors who will benefit from quality-of-life improvements in the ship's design. Compared to Nimitz-class carriers with berthing units that sleep up to 200 sailors, Ford will have quieter berthing areas sleeping no more than 86 people. Each berthing features an adjoining washroom. Sailors will also have access to separate recreation areas, multiple gymnasiums and more air conditioning.